THE UNDERSTANDING FATHER
Ps. 103:14 NLT
For He (the Lord) understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust.
Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help when we need it.
Having lived and worked in the Evangelical world of Christianity now, for 45 years, I can tell you from first-hand observation and experience, they can be some of the most judgemental, and harshest people I have known. Many are extremely loving, generous, sacrificial and wonderful people. But there is this tendency among many to be very un-Christlike in their dealings with the weaknesses, struggles, and hardships of their fellow believers, and in their dealings with their own children. I have known many harsh, self-righteous fathers, who were not understanding men, men whom their children could not easily and confidently approach for help, advice, or loving understanding in the throes of personal struggles or failings. They consistently did not receive or experience grace or perceptive understanding from their father. Instead, they were hastily and wrongly judged, misunderstood, and harshly treated.
Men, it is imperative that we become understanding men in our dealings with our children, no matter what age they may be. I have been greatly helped over these many years as I have reflected on the passages of scripture above and the marvelous understanding nature of God in his dealings with us. This is in fact how we are to deal with our very own children.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do my children feel confident and secure to approach me for help about anything they’re going through or struggling with?
Can my children expect to receive mercy from me, and grace to help them in their times of need?
Do my children feel understood and genuinely cared about by me?
Do my children believe, know and feel that I will put forth every effort to enter their world, striving to understand them as a person, and what they are going through, and what has led them to the conclusions or decisions they have come to?
Do I treat my children in a way that protects their dignity and doesn’t degrade or belittle them?
These things my friends were of the utmost importance to me as I dealt with my children, and as in fact, I deal with them all, still! Even though they are all adults now with their own families. This is the kind of father I am always striving to be.
Many years ago, one of my daughters went through a challenging time when she was about 12. For many months for whatever reasons, she would wake up late at night struggling with her thoughts. Night after night, for months she would come and wake me up, and ask if we could talk. We would sit on the living room couch, and I would listen, striving to understand, to love her, and to be very patient with her in this time of weakness and struggle. I never made her feel stupid. I never scolded her harshly for waking me up again for the 20th night in a row. I listened, gave her a hug, offered words of comfort and encouragement, and always prayed with her. Then she would go back to bed. Eventually, after some months this struggle ended and was no more.
Recently she relayed to me an evening that she and her husband spent with close friends, and they got on the topic of growing up. Each shared a little story about their childhood. My daughter shared this one, and how much it meant to her that her dad was so understanding and patient with her. The others who heard her story were amazed and commented that they had not experienced that kind of understanding and love from their father growing up. I was simply touched that she remembered the story and that it left a deep impression on her heart.
As a grandfather now and father of adult children, I have not lost sight of the importance of striving to be an understanding father. My goodness, my friends, adult life is very, very difficult, and the challenges of life can be extremely overwhelming. Each of my adult children and their families are on their own unique journey. Each has their own challenges and trials, each is seeking the Lord’s direction in their lives. As I deal with each of them, as we interact and we visit, I strive, like Christ to enter their world, to understand their personal situations, and do all I can to truly understand what they are going through, to help them, or comfort them, or listen to them, and always at the forefront of my mind are the questions I wrote above. I am always striving to be like my High Priest Jesus Christ, and give them grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, and use any and every resource at my disposal to help them on their way.
As a father, I never forget or lose sight of how incredibly discouraging life can become. When one thing after another, after another, seems to go wrong, and the strain of life is relentlessly raining down on you, our children may simply be suffering from deep discouragement, and the father who misunderstands this, and harshly judges them, or misperceives their hurt and pain, will do them harm.
I will not be like Job’s friends to my children!! I long to be like our Heavenly Father to my children, and walk through life with them in an understanding way.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling